Alcohol Rehab – Things to Look For
How can I my help family into alcohol rehab?
Families can be a big help to people in need of alcohol rehab. These are just a few questions families should ask the treatment providers they are considering:
- Does the facility offer inpatient or outpatient care?
- Is medical detox provided?
- Are there treatment options for co-occurring disorders?
- What does a typical treatment plan look like?
- What staff and support team members are available?
- How is the facility set up?
- What are the costs involved?
If you or someone you love is struggling with an alcohol use disorder or addiction, call our toll-free and confidential alcohol hotline at to discuss your options.
In 2013, nearly 7 percent of Americans 12 and older were dependent on alcohol, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
They drank in their homes or in public places, they drank alone or in groups, and they wanted to stop but seemed unable to do so.
Alcohol abuse disorders like this can seem persistent and even a little bit unbeatable, but they can be treated. People who enroll in an alcohol rehab could pick up the skills they’ll need in order to say “No” to that next glass of alcohol, and they could be an inspiration to the thousands of others who need to get sober but just don’t know how to do so. When someone drinks too much, families can be a big help. By investigating alcohol rehab options, they can present a person in need with a comprehensive treatment plan with all of the specifics nailed down. These are just a few questions families should consider as they begin their research.
Does the person need residential alcohol treatment, or is outpatient care better?
An inpatient treatment program allows a person with an addiction to step away from the daily concerns of life in order to really focus on the specifics of recovery. It could be a particularly good approach for people with alcoholism. Many people who enroll in treatment programs for alcoholism are middle-aged or older.
For example, SAMHSA reports that about 15.2 percent of people enrolling in treatment programs in Alaska in 2014 for alcohol issues alone were 51-55 years. That’s the biggest age group of people enrolling for alcohol-only help. When people are a little older like this, they have all sorts of stressors that pull on them on a daily basis. They may have:
It’s hard to really focus on the specifics of addiction care when there are all these other demands on a person’s time.
An inpatient program might be best for someone who seems unwilling or unable to put recovery first. An inpatient program forces that person to really focus.
An inpatient program might be good, too, for people who have tried outpatient alcoholism recovery in the past and found those programs unhelpful. When relapses seem to happen, over and over again, that’s a sign that the program of choice isn’t optimal. If outpatient care hasn’t worked before, inpatient treatment might be a good way to go.
But there are some people who can do well in outpatient programs. Those with a relatively new alcoholism habit might succeed in outpatient care, for example, as might people with a strong family connection and a good support group. People like this might not need all of the security and supervision inpatient care can deliver.
Does the person need medical detox for alcohol rehab, and is it available?
Alcohol’s effects can seem transient, wearing off in just a few hours, but the chemical changes that each sip prompts can linger deep within the brain. Sometimes, those changes become so severe that people develop life-threatening complications during withdrawal, including seizures.
UpToDate suggests that people who develop serious alcohol withdrawal problems tend to have some sort of genetic predisposition to do so. That seems to suggest that people with a family history of difficult alcohol withdrawal should enter a medical detox program in order to get better. If a relative has struggled with withdrawal, the person might do the same.
Even people with no family history of difficulty can find it hard to withdraw. People who feel jittery and shaky between drinks are exhibiting the first signs of a difficult withdrawal, and those signs can progress and deepen. Anyone who mentions these issues should be considered for a medical detox.
A medical detox program takes place in an inpatient center, where medical teams can provide supervision and support around the clock.
It’s not the right option for everyone, but for people at risk of withdrawal complications, it could be ideal.
Is the person at risk for a co-occurring disorder, and if so, can the center treat it?
Alcoholism, in and of itself, is a serious issue, but some people with alcoholism also have other mental health conditions. Sometimes, those other conditions are caused by the same sorts of genetic issues that could contribute to alcoholism. For example, an analysis in Alcohol Research & Health suggests that there could be a genetic link between alcoholism and depression. If that holds true, it could mean that people with alcoholism have a gene-based boost in their risk for depression. That could mean people walking into a treatment center for alcoholism also need help with depression. A facility that provides comprehensive mental health screening at intake is best positioned to both spot and treat these issues. That’s not a service every facility provides, but those that emphasize the need for help for co-occurring disorders might provide this kind of care as a matter of course. An integrated care protocol for both alcoholism and a co-occurring disorder would provide therapies for both conditions at the same time, giving the person a comprehensive view of how the two disorders work together and what might be done to keep both issues under control. For example, in a standard alcoholism program, therapists might provide coaching on common drinking triggers. They might advise clients to steer clear of bars, parties, or picnics until they’re sure they can attend without drinking. But with a co-occurring focus, a treatment team might also home in on the mental illness symptoms that could prompt someone to drink. Someone in therapy like this might learn to spot signs and symptoms of sadness and loss, and they might develop tools they can use to deal with that loss, so they don’t drink. Mental illnesses like anxiety are sometimes treated with medications, and that might not be on the table in all treatment facilities for addiction. If the family thinks medication is the best route to wellness for someone they love, that’s an issue they should discuss as they research, so they’ll know just what treatment the person they love is apt to receive after enrollment.
What does an alcohol treatment plan look like?
After an evaluation, a treatment center pulls together a roadmap to alcohol wellness. This is a treatment plan, and it might provide a mix of services including:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Support group work
- Occupational therapy
- Relapse prevention
- Family therapy
While experts pull this plan together, people in need of help have the opportunity to weigh in on the treatment types offered. It’s a collaborative process between the person who needs care and the team that will provide that care. There is no right way or singular way to deal with an alcoholism issue. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says there is no one program that’s been proven more effective than another, when it comes to alcoholism. Just getting help is vital. For those families worried that a particular program won’t be comprehensive, seeing a treatment plan can be a big relief. Clearly, the person will get help on many fronts, and that could help to ease concerns.
What staff and support are available and expected?
Treatment facilities may have a variety of different team members on hand to help someone recover from alcoholism. The staff might include:
- Medical doctors
- Social workers
- Peers in recovery
- Art therapists
- Physical fitness trainers
Some facilities employ staffers with degrees specific to addiction. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, people with an addiction specialist degree might be medical doctors or psychiatrists. They have special training on how addictions work and how they can be treated. Not all facilities offer staffers with this specialized knowledge.
How are alcohol treatment facilities typically set up?
Inpatient alcohol treatment facilities come with a wide variety of options. Some offer private rooms, while others provide dorm-like settings. Some provide private grounds for reflection and exercise, while others provide a hospital-like environment that delivers tight security and supervision. Some offer extensive recreation opportunities, while others do not. In general, most facilities encourage interaction between people enrolled for care. They might meet others as roommates, or they might have informal interactions at mealtimes or in support groups. Working with peers can deliver intense benefits, particularly for people new to the idea of recovery. A study in Psychiatric Services suggests that only about 10-15 percent of people with alcoholism understand that they need to get care. The rest think their problems are either minor or nonexistent. When people suffering from alcoholism meet others with the condition, they might be able to work through this denial. They’ll see that the disease can strike others, and it can strike people just like them. That could make a sense of denial begin to fade away.
What is the cost of attending a residential alcohol rehab?
It’s more expensive to enroll in a residential rehab program for alcoholism, when compared to outpatient alcoholism rehab programs. After all, residential programs provide all sorts of perks and benefits, including food, shelter, laundry, and recreational opportunities. That makes these programs more robust, but it also makes these programs a touch more expensive. Residential programs can vary dramatically in terms of cost, so it’s best for families to take up this question with the admissions staff. No online article will be able to answer this question as thoroughly as someone who administers this program on a day-to-day level. No matter the price, however, the care is most often worth it. According to NIDA, every $1 investment in treatment tends to yield $7 in savings in crime-related costs. Families that ignore alcoholism due to concerns about cost could end up paying more in the end. It’s much better to invest in health and healing.
People of all ages and all races and all classes struggle with alcohol. It’s a potent drug, available everywhere, and it’s very hard to resist the call. That’s why there’s no shame in enrolling someone in a treatment program that can help. Thousands of people make that decision every day, and they emerge feeling stronger and much more in control. Families that step up and help the people they love could be doing their communities, and the world at large, a huge favor. Armed with these questions, they can find the right programs and that could help the alcoholism impacting their families to fade for good.